April 22, 2008


Walking through the 4th floor of the Ayala Museum, home to the new Gold exhibit (Opening May), I was stunned by the quality and historical significance of the pieces that are on display. Specifically the collection of Golden deities and burial masks with details that hearken back to our pagan beliefs. The masterpiece in this collection is a massive, finely woven golden....scarf? Sheathe? You will know what I am talking about when you see it.

The level of sophistication that our ancestors had prior to the Spanish is fascinating. Gold, a representation of ones social standing, clearly outlines an evolved social structure that existed before our re-education (dripping with sarcasm) through the Spanish. This collection is of incredible importance to our culture is a Filipino people, and is by far, one of the most significant finds in existence today.

Which also brings to light another concern; how did these donated collections slip below the radar and how many more of these private collections exist? Worse, why do we pretend that these donations deserve public appreciation and recognition-- is it not just another form of theft?

Granted, there is some defense for these collectors. The condition of our national museum is so depressing, that if I had possession of such pieces I would be very hesitant to release them to these institutions. In this I will give the Ayala Museum its due credit. The gold masterpieces are both protected and displayed at a world class standard. It is a wonderfully crafted exhibit that resonates a strong cultural message and makes us proud to be Filipinos.


Anonymous said...

I agree that beautiful things should be shared and admired by as many people as possible but can you really trust a system, like the Philippine government, in safekeeping these treasures? We can't really blame the private collectors. Greed? Yes Thef? It depends on the means of obtaining the object in question.
The Deviant

The Jolly Jetsetter said...

Well, let us not forget that in many of these cases it was in fact the Philippines government who allowed these treasures to fall into the hands of collectors. Let us call a spade a spade, regardless of how it is purchased, when a collector knowingly obtains pieces that have a direct impact on the cutlural understanding or historical significance of a people-- well, there are not too many other words to describe that.

I do want to make this clear-- regardless of what collection they came from, I am extremely happy that Ayala has been able to display such items. It must have taken a lot of dedicated work on their part and when you consider that such pieces might have been lost forever, a testament to their cmmitment to the Filipino Culture. I hope that this is the beginning of many more exhibits to come.